Compression fractures can be benign or malignant. Fortunately, most are benign, occurring secondary to osteoporosis, a weakening condition of the spine where the bones are poorly mineralized. When bones become brittle through either demineralization or a malignant process (e.g., cancer), the vertebrae are not strong enough to support the spine.
Some patients may not feel any symptoms or back pain, while other patients may feel:
- Sudden onset of severe back pain
- Height loss
- Disability and/or deformity
- Limited spinal mobility
- Feeling more pain while standing or walking
Conservative therapy is the mainstay of treatment, including rest, pain control, physical therapy, weight loss, and use of a brace. It is important that the underlying cause of the fracture is addressed, whether through medical treatment to improve bone density or appropriate treatment of an underlying cancer. Regardless of the cause, when conservative treatment is inadequate, kyphoplasty can expedite the healing process and provide immediate relief.